The question of the day is can Republicans win without lying? I ask because for the last ten years at least the Republican strategy in presidential campaigns has been to attach some outrageous falsehood to the Democratic party's candidate. Examples:
- In 2000, we were invited to mock Al Gore for claiming that he had invented the internet. [Gore never made any such claim]
- In 2004, a troop of men with deep chips on their shoulders were trotted out to falsely impugn John Kerry's war record [Only one of swiftboaters served directly under Kerry, and their claims about how he won his medals were completely false]
- In 2008 the Big Republican Lie (BRL) was that Barak Obama was a protege of Bill Ayers and still under his influence. This gambit failed to affect the results of the election despite having a whit of an iota of a jot of truth to it. [Ayers and Obama had overlapping social circles, and were occasionally in attendance at the same events.]
Though we still have 18 months to go, the BRL for Decision 2012 already seems set. Expect to hear over and over again that Barak Obama "demanded" an Israeli withdraw or, better yet, a retreat to the 1967 lines. Though this claim is an absolute distortion of the president's words, Republicans have already shown their willingness to lie. Advertisements like the one at the right are running all over the Internet, and my mail tells me that many Zionist shul rabbis are happily carrying water for Republican candidates by repeating the BRL in their sermons and newsletters. Questions for discussion:
(1) Why don't the Democrats do this? Surely, its possible to mischarecterize the words of a Republican candidate to make it seem like he's embraced some outrageous and unacceptable position, but Democrats lies, if they are told, never seem to acquire national traction. Why not? Is it because liberals are bad liars, or are they more fundamentally committed to fairness, even to their own detriment? Flattering as this interpretation of the liberal psyche might be, I happen to think liberals have tried to play these dishonest games but failed. There are two reasons for this:' (a) Liberals aren't blindly loyal to any institution, personality or cause. We don't march in lockstep. We eat our own for sport; and (2) Liberals don't have a national network of radio and cable hosts at their (Glenn) beck and call who are willing to unreflectivity repeat the talking points de jour.
(2) Why do the Republicans do this? Do they really believe their own lies, or do they just not care, preferring to win at any cost?